CAREGiver of the Month - Robyn Smith

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Robyn Offers Words of Comfort When Talk Takes Dark Turn

Sooner or later, many of the conversations seem to turn to talk of dying.

Award-winning CAREGiver Robyn Smith listens intently to her clients, “listens” being the operative word. “I don’t offer them some deep philosophical discussion about dying when they bring it up, and I don’t try to avoid it, either,” explained Robyn, a CAREGiver of the Month for Home Instead Senior Care® of Birmingham. “Basically when the clients look for a response, I tell them, ‘Let’s just cherish the moment and live for now.’ I try to remain positive, and that gives them a measure of comfort.”

Empathy. In a nutshell, that’s how Robyn has established long relationships with her four clients who include a husband and wife. “All of my clients are good to work with,” said Robyn, who started her job in June 2012 after a recommendation from a friend who was a CAREGiver. “I’ve been with the couple for a year and a half, I’ll have been with an 83-year-old man for two years when December rolls around, and my other lady has been with me for 19 months.”

Her 83-year-old male client, who has Parkinson’s disease, treats Robyn as if she is his daughter. After her 7-to-10 p.m. weekend shift ends, the client requests a phone call so that he knows she has made it home safely to her husband and their four children. The client, a huge Weather Channel aficionado, worried about her travels during the Detroit area’s recent treacherous winter.

The things that Robyn cherishes about her job are the same things that her clients love about her: “My clients and I treat each other like family. We’ve become very attached to each other. Companionship is so very important, and I feel as though I am being helpful to someone.”

With caregiving comes new experiences for Robyn, who was introduced to Mexican Train, a game played with dominoes. The object of the game is for a player to play all the dominoes from his or her hand onto one or more chains, or “trains,” emanating from a central hub or station. “I play it with my client couple,” Robyn said, “and I like it. We pick certain days to play it. It helps the husband fine-tune his mental process because you have to count the dots.”

Only one of Robyn’s current clients has dementia symptoms, but she stands ready if she’s needed to help a client navigate through the challenges of Alzheimer’s disease or another form of dementia. Among her training classes at owner Bert Copple’s franchise, Robyn has taken the Home Instead Senior Care network’s Alzheimer’s Disease or Other Dementias CARE: Changing Aging Through Research and Education® Training Program.

CAREGivers trained in the CARE program, such as Robyn, have a passion to work with Alzheimer’s clients and receive ongoing classroom training and testing before caring for a senior with Alzheimer’s or other dementias. The Home Instead program offers a personal approach to taking care of seniors with Alzheimer’s disease at home – where 60 to 70 percent live, according to the Alzheimer’s Association. It is a unique program that has received acclaim and endorsements from experts, and it has earned Robyn’s praise.

“The Alzheimer’s training was excellent, I thought,” said Robyn, who had gone to school for training as a medical assistant before becoming a full-time mom. “The training is thoughtful in its approach and is helpful.”

For now, Robyn provides a huge lift with the activities of daily living for her clients, including laundry and meal preparation duties for her Parkinson’s client who is still able to walk but needs help with everything else. His special request? “Brownies,” Robyn said with a laugh. “We keep him well stocked with food that’s labeled and organized in the refrigerator and three freezers. One of our other CAREGivers replenishes the supply of brownies. We always have a plate of them in the refrigerator for him.”

Robyn’s time with her clients dovetails perfecting with her responsibilities of being a wife and a mom. Home Instead’s scheduling is flexible so that she can drop three of her children off at school and pick them up. Her husband drops off their 16-year-old at a high school. “Our 16-year-old has a passion for the elderly – she really likes seniors and likes being around them,” Robyn points out. “That having been said, right now she’s not on a senior-care job track – she wants to be a veterinarian – and that sounds good, too.”

One thing is for sure – Robyn’s children all share her mom’s warm heart. “Everything is going well, and I love what I am doing,” Robyn said.

Home Instead CAREGivers, who are screened, trained, bonded and insured, provide a variety of non-medical services to help keep seniors independent. For inquiries about employment with Home Instead Senior Care, please call (248) 203-2273 or email Anne Monaghan at For further information about the company, visit or to learn more about the company's services link to a digital brochure at


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